OAU: Security Situation on Campus And The Concerns of The Students

 By Ajibade Abdullah Adewale

In the late hours of Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023, Gloria Omoniyi, a part one student of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University was physically attacked and robbed while passing a path between Akintola and Fajuyi halls of residence heading towards the sports complex. Omoniyi as a result of this incident was immediately rushed to the Obafemi Awolowo University Health Centre. 

She lost her mobile phone in the incident while the perpetrator escaped. As per witnesses' accounts,  efforts by those alerted to catch the culprit proved abortive as he was said to have absconded through the bush. 

This development, amidst the resumption of academic activities of a new semester, has generated reactions and raised questions about how a campus that is always said to be among the safest in Nigeria has been exposed to a security breach.

Addressing these concerns, Ojetola Ridwan, a student of the Linguistics and African Languages department described the situation as one that has intensified the fear of the students. 

“ One of the areas in which the prestige of Obafemi Awolowo University lies is anti-cultism and it is expected that both management and our union join forces together to ensure that the regard which is always accorded to the school, especially by the parents on security guarantee is not lost. ”

Ojetola advised that the security unit of the school should resume night parades and also urged the Student Union to be proactive in their reaction to information on threats to student welfare.   

 For Olugbade Majeed, a student of Art and Social Science Education, the cause of the security issue was due to the negligence of the school management and the Students’ Union Leaders. 

He shared that there could only be adequate security when there is a total condemnation of any threat to students without using notorious persons for any dubious purpose. 

Agboola Bukunmi, a student of the Management and Accounting department while buttressing the view of Majeed shared that the security unit of the school has been complicit in security issues. 

He further said, “ The school management through the OAU security unit have been complicit on security issues, this is evident at two of the parliamentary sitting of which John Udeh and his cohort came to Awo Cafe to disrupt the parliamentary session in form of security personnel from QRS (Quick Response Squad) of which they are just looking. They are Non-Response Squad at those two events." 

He suggested that to avoid a recurrence of the security breach,  students should collectively discuss matters affecting them while he urged the management to always hand over criminals to external securities and ensure that they  “face the full wrath of the law.”

 Omowumi Ewatee a student of the faculty of education  while lamenting  that the campus is gradually becoming a den for perpetrators recounted,  “Students used to be glad that they could walk any time of the day to anywhere on campus without getting harmed but if you ask me why is it that peace is gradually vanishing, there are sacrifices made by students of then whose legacy we've neglected.”

For her,  the student community is in this situation because many of them now stay off campus.  

She suggested that “Every student of OAU should be aware that they are indirectly a security member. Students should be their brother's keepers and always be vigilant of their environment, if they suspect anything, raise an alarm immediately." 

 The Reaction Of The Students’ Union

In engagement with Ogunperi Taofeek, the Public Relations Officer of the Union, he expressed that it is a worrisome situation for the student community to have suspected the invasion of cultists on campus. However, he applauded the vigilance of the students. 

Ogunperi confirmed that the leadership of the union is engaging the School security department, external security outfits and volunteer security committee.

“Currently, there's no Security Committee of the Students' Union. What we have is a team of security volunteers, made of selfless and gallant students of the University who are committed to the safety of all other students. Having a team of security volunteers became necessary, in the absence of a substantive Security Committee.

“I can also tell you that the leadership of the Union is engaging the Security Department of the University and external security outfits. Other than the security volunteers meeting with the personnel and exchanging information, the security volunteers have improved the security patrols they routinely do around campus.

“We have also demanded that preventive measures are taken to make our campus safer. Such include but not only the proper lighting of places where undesirable elements could house themselves; fumigation of hostels in the second semester. These efforts are preliminary and are expected to be followed with more, with a view to deepening the sensitization and conscientization of students,” he said.

When asked why the student community still has volunteers as Security committee members , he said,  “there's a process to follow to have a security committee. This process includes recruiting members into the committee via nominations, then assessment and ratification of the nominees by the SRC or the Congress. 

“Last session, Congress ratified the then Security Committee. What we currently have are conscious students who are yet to go through the traditional assessment and ratification process which would validate them as members of the security committee. All things being equal, the ratification will happen at the earliest opportunity."

In his final words, Taofeek appreciated the Great Ife students for the resilience shown during the short and demanding semester. He assured that the union, regardless of the challenges, will not relent in its efforts to safeguard the interest of the students.

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